Bees, Honey, Bee Hives , and Everything Honey is definitely a HOT trend right now. Why the sudden popularity in bees?
Bees, once considered a nuisance because of their alleged ornery disposition are in the spotlight these days. There has been a fantastic increase in public awareness over the past few years, leading many to set up hives in their gardens and on their roofs. Bees are also making their presence known in the handmade world as well.. they’re showing up in hair bows, fabric prints, wreaths, garden decor and just about anywhere you can imagine in home decor~ Believe it or not, you have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food you eat. Honey bees — wild and domestic — perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, but fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees. Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops — which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition — are pollinated by bees.
What’s Killing the Bees — and Why It Matters
Worldwide bee colony collapse is not as big a mystery as the chemical industry claims.
The systemic nature of the problem makes it complex, but not impenetrable. Scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors—pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, global warming and more. Many of these causes are interrelated. The bottom line is that we know humans are largely responsible for the two most prominent causes: pesticides and habitat loss.
Worker bees (females) live about six weeks in summer and several months in the winter. Colonies produce new worker bees continuously during the spring and summer, and then reproduction slows during the winter. Typically, a bee hive or colony will decline by 5-10 percent over the winter, and replace those lost bees in the spring. In a bad year, a bee colony might lose 15-20 percent of its bees.
In the U.S., winter losses have commonly reached 30-50 percent, in some cases more. In 2006, David Hackenberg — a bee keeper for 42 years — reported a 90 percent die-off among his 3,000 hives. U.S. National Agricultural Statistics show a honey bee decline from about 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million hives in 2008, a 60 percent reduction.
The number of working bee colonies per hectare provides a critical metric of crop health. In the U.S. — among crops that require bee pollination — the number of bee colonies per hectare has declined by 90 percent since 1962. The bees cannot keep pace with the winter die-off rates and habitat loss.
These alarming facts have caused an uptick in gardener’s planning, many are adding bee-friendly plant species in their home gardens, and many are even adding bee homes, skeps and hives. Leading to the trend in urban bee-keeping.
Growing number of Illinois beekeepers welcome new hives
After a steady decline that started the 1980s, Illinois is returning to levels of bee hives and beekeepers not seen for more than 30 years. Click here for a video and story about bee keeping being on the rise in urban locations: Chicago
20 Fun Facts all About Bees:
- Honey bees must gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey.
- One bee has to fly about 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make one pound of honey.
- The average bee will make only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
- Honey bees visit 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
- A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
- The bee’s brain is oval in shape and about the size of a sesame seed, yet it has a remarkable capacity to learn and remember things. For example, it is able to make complex calculations on distance travelled and foraging efficiency.
- Honey bees communicate with one another by dancing.
- A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honey bees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female, live for about 6 weeks and do all the work.
- The queen bee can live up to 5 years and is the only bee that lays eggs. She is the busiest in the summer months, when the hive needs to be at its maximum strength, and lays up to 2500 eggs per day.
- Larger than the worker bees, the male honey bees (also called drones), have no stinger and do no work. All they do is mate.
- Honey has always been highly regarded as a medicine. It is thought to help with everything from sore throats and digestive disorders to skin problems and hay fever.
- Honey has antiseptic properties and was historically used as a dressing for wounds and a first aid treatment for burns and cuts.
- The natural fruit sugars in honey – fructose and glucose – are quickly digested by the body. This is why sportsmen and athletes use honey to give them a natural energy boost.
- Honey bees have been producing honey in the same way for 150 million years.
- The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
- Honey lasts an incredibly long time. An explorer who found a 2000 year old jar of honey in an Egyptian tomb said it tasted delicious!
- The bees’ buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 11,400 times per minute.
- When a bee finds a good source of nectar it flies back to the hive and shows its friends where the nectar source is by doing a dance which positions the flower in relation to the sun and hive. This is known as the ‘waggle dance.’
- Honey’s ability to attract and retain moisture means that it has long been used as a beauty treatment. It was part of Cleopatra’s daily beauty ritual.
- Honey is incredibly healthy and includes enzymes, vitamins, minerals. It’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.